Matthew E. Goldman
TPOL S 340
Investigates crises that plague the Middle East. Critically examines a wide range of viewpoints on these issues.
This class will introduce students to the recent history of the Middle East as well as apply theories from political science to attempt to better understand some of today’s key issues: Why is there such tension between the United States, Israel, and Iran over Iran’s nuclear program? Why does violence continue to plague Iraq almost a decade after the overthrow of the government of Saddam Hussein? Why have we seen such different outcomes arising from the protests against authoritarian regimes in Egypt, Tunisia, and Syria? Why did Israelis and Palestinians attempt to make peace in the 1990s, and why did this process fail? By applying political science theories to today’s headlines, we aim to both increase our understanding of the contemporary Middle East as well as deepen our ability to think critically about the political issues that shape our world.
Student learning goals
1. Understand the nature and history of the current state-system in the Middle East today
2. Identify the key identity groups in the Middle East as well as the impact of identity on the politics of the region
3. Discern the roots of today’s Middle Eastern states in the Ottoman and colonial pasts
4. Critically evaluate theories seeking explain the pervasiveness of authoritarianism in the Middle East
5. Analyze the roles of interests, rationality, culture, and emotion in interstate and intrastate conflicts
6. Understand and take well-argued positions on debates surrounding four key issues in the Middle East: the instability in Iraq following the 2003 overthrow of Saddam Hussein; the confrontation between the US, Israel, and Iran over Iran’s nuclear enrichment program; the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict; and the “Arab Spring” uprisings against authoritarian rule in several Arab countries.
General method of instruction
Class assignments and grading